Where are they now? With Frank Aloe
The CIJ catches up with former RMIT Juris Doctor student Frank Aloe to find out what he's been up to since graduating.
When did you graduate, what have you been up to since then?
I graduated from the RMIT JD in 2016. I completed my practical legal training over the course of 2017 and was admitted as a lawyer in December that year.
In early 2017 I started in a graduate program at MinterEllison, a large Australian corporate firm, which involves three rotations across the firm to help new lawyers find the area of law that suits them best.
During the program I’ve worked across:
- Insurance and Corporate Risk – a litigious area that is involved in a wide variety of matters ranging from professional indemnity, medical negligence and issues related to the banking royal commission;
- Projects, Infrastructure and Construction – working on legal issues related to the large road, tunnel, bridge and building projects including contract negotiations and litigation; and
- Tax Consulting – a large practice area covering litigation and advisory work for international organisations such as those involved in big acquisitions and mergers.
Tell us a little bit about your career journey and why you decided to pursue a law degree?
I was already working full time in a different career when I started the JD. I had never actually intended to practice law and was really just pursuing the degree to further that existing career. However I found that the further I got through my studies, the more value I saw in legal practice and the more I realised it was a good fit for me. In the end I found myself enjoying my legal studies and the experience I had through RMIT and the CIJ much more than my regular job, and so left that role to move into legal practice when I completed the JD.
How well did the RMIT JD prepare you for your career?
I think the RMIT JD is a great program and one that sets students up really well for a range of careers.
Unlike many other legal programs the RMIT JD has such a fantastic mix of practical experience along with the traditional black letter law subjects.
The practical experiences were definitely the areas in which I received some of my most worthwhile opportunities of my degree, and significantly shaped my idea of what a career in the law can be. These not only included the CIJ projects mentioned below, but also opportunities to study internationally though courses in Denmark and Vietnam, as well as work with a barrister and interaction with judges and lawyers through a range of electives.
What involvement did you have with CIJ while studying?
I was constantly involved with the CIJ throughout my JD and overall I think it was a central part of my experience at RMIT. I was able to participate in some incredible opportunities through the CIJ, ranging from spending a week with judges in the Court of Appeal, shadowing a Magistrate in the Drug Court, visiting prisons with the Mental Health Legal Centre, travelling to New Zealand to meet judges and observe restorative justice programs first hand, and working through the CIJ on a project with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
If you had one piece of advice to give law/social work students, what would that be?
Give yourself the widest range of experience that you can.
The RMIT JD is a great program full of some unique experiences that aren’t so readily available elsewhere. I’d recommend throwing your name in for as many interesting opportunities, courses and projects as possible. This of course includes opportunities through the CIJ, but also from the MBA side of the Graduate School (I was often the only JD student who participated in the more generalist MBA programs such as the international courses) and interesting electives outside the run-of-the-mill legal subjects.
The types of practical experiences that RMIT and the CIJ offer seem to be rare at other universities and are met with surprise from my colleagues who studied at the likes of Monash or Melbourne. They are an area in which the RMIT JD excels and if these sorts of experiences aren’t already on your radar they absolutely should be as they can completely re-shape your outlook on the legal industry and your place in it.
Is there anything that surprised you about working in the legal sector?
The most surprising aspect of working in the legal sector is how varied that can be. At the beginning of my studies my idea of what work in the law meant was so much more constrained than it needed to be.
The experiences throughout my studies and since graduating have exposed me to legal work within the court system, the social work space, government and the corporate world, and I feel like I’m still only scratching the surface.
I’ve come to realise that an understanding of the law can give you skills applicable in every aspect of life, and that regardless of whether you use them in what would narrowly be called the legal sector, that understanding is hugely important and provides for fantastic opportunities.